Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Ontogeny of learning walks and the acquisition of landmark information in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis


Fleischmann, Pauline N; Christian, Marcelo; Müller, Valentin L; Rössler, Wolfgang; Wehner, Rüdiger (2016). Ontogeny of learning walks and the acquisition of landmark information in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis. Journal of Experimental Biology, 219(19):3137-3145.

Abstract

At the beginning of their foraging lives, desert ants (Cataglyphis fortis) are for the first time exposed to the visual world within which they henceforth must accomplish their navigational tasks. Their habitat, North African salt pans, is barren, and the nest entrance, a tiny hole in the ground, is almost invisible. Although natural landmarks are scarce and the ants mainly depend on path integration for returning to the starting point, they can also learn and use landmarks successfully to navigate through their largely featureless habitat. Here, we studied how the ants acquire this information at the beginning of their outdoor lives within a nest-surrounding array of three artificial black cylinders. Individually marked 'newcomers' exhibit a characteristic sequence of learning walks. The meandering learning walks covering all directions of the compass first occur only within a few centimeters of the nest entrance, but then increasingly widen, until after three to seven learning walks, foraging starts. When displaced to a distant test field in which an identical array of landmarks has been installed, the ants shift their search density peaks more closely to the fictive goal position, the more learning walks they have performed. These results suggest that learning of a visual landmark panorama around a goal is a gradual rather than an instantaneous process.

Abstract

At the beginning of their foraging lives, desert ants (Cataglyphis fortis) are for the first time exposed to the visual world within which they henceforth must accomplish their navigational tasks. Their habitat, North African salt pans, is barren, and the nest entrance, a tiny hole in the ground, is almost invisible. Although natural landmarks are scarce and the ants mainly depend on path integration for returning to the starting point, they can also learn and use landmarks successfully to navigate through their largely featureless habitat. Here, we studied how the ants acquire this information at the beginning of their outdoor lives within a nest-surrounding array of three artificial black cylinders. Individually marked 'newcomers' exhibit a characteristic sequence of learning walks. The meandering learning walks covering all directions of the compass first occur only within a few centimeters of the nest entrance, but then increasingly widen, until after three to seven learning walks, foraging starts. When displaced to a distant test field in which an identical array of landmarks has been installed, the ants shift their search density peaks more closely to the fictive goal position, the more learning walks they have performed. These results suggest that learning of a visual landmark panorama around a goal is a gradual rather than an instantaneous process.

Statistics

Citations

5 citations in Web of Science®
5 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

6 downloads since deposited on 13 Feb 2017
6 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Brain Research Institute
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:13 Feb 2017 11:25
Last Modified:26 Jul 2017 00:00
Publisher:Company of Biologists
ISSN:0022-0949
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.140459
PubMed ID:27481270

Download

Download PDF  'Ontogeny of learning walks and the acquisition of landmark information in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis'.
Preview
Content: Published Version
Filetype: PDF
Size: 904kB
View at publisher